In 1968 filmmaker Thomas Reichman made a documentary which primarily consists of band footage and one to one interviews with Charles Mingus. What is revealed is an intimate portrait of one of America’s most prolific and original composers as well as arguably the genre’s greatest bass player. Throughout the documentary Mingus’ demeanour is steeped in bitterness and anger as he ranges through topics as diverse as race, sex, democracy. The film has moments of poignancy particularly at the end when a run in with the Police leaves Mingus being questionably arrested with an abrupt ending leaving the viewer to wonder as to how the situation was resolved.
Although not as long as Thelonious Monk’s ’Straight no Chaser’, one can’t help but see parallels as both features show profiles of rather introspective and eccentric musicians. Although this may not be the finest and most definitive documentary about a musician ever made , what separates it from other works in its ilk is that it focuses on Mingus as the centre of its universe opposed to in other documentaries where many opinions are derived from friends family members, friends, musicians critics etc. The film is rare and it is great that is getting second light on You Tube. This film is like to appeal to anyone who has ever had an interest in the music Charles Mingus. You dig!